1. ITV Report

'Last chance saloon' as Stormont talks enter third week

North Belfast MLA Nichola Mallon said the public spoke clearly in the recent Assembly election. Photo: UTV

The third week of talks to resolve the issues preventing the formation of a new power-sharing Executive is due to get underway, with the SDLP warning it is now "last chance saloon".

The negotiations between the main parties and the British and Irish governments will resume on Monday, with the deadline for agreement set for 27 March.

After two weeks, a decision on the way forward has still not been reached.

If politicians cannot find a consensus, the future of Stormont could be in doubt, with direct rule or yet another election on the cards.

"This is the last chance saloon in many respects," said Nichola Mallon of the SDLP.

"The public have sent to us a very clear message in the election on 2 March - they want to see an Executive up and running."

Steven Farry said the previous agreements set out a path on legacy issues. Credit: UTV

What is clear from the talks so far is the legacy of Northern Ireland's Troubles is still a major sticking point.

It remains one of the biggest issues facing the parties.

Stephen Farry of Alliance said: "Legacy has been discussed for the past two decades, the Irish language is also becoming an issue of difference between the parties.

"Ultimately, people here have to be focusing on what is most important for the voters, that's having a proper government."

The spotlight on Stormont will no doubt intensify over the coming week as the talks enter their final stages in the approach to D Day.

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